I’m not retired, yet. But I have plans. A divorce (in 2019) and a heart attack (in 2020) have altered my perspective significantly. I always believed, sort of joking, I’d die in my university office. I don’t think many academics actually kck the bucket in their offices, but there are a lot of old professors for sure. So I might be retiring sooner than later, for a few good reasons.
The divorce forced me to consider the financial side of retirement. All those Sixty Minutes investigations into the retirement crisis in the United States revealing how poorly so many Americans have planned for their retirement constantly remind us we all need money to retire, and we all probably don’t have enough. Retirement income is certainly lower than when working, but there are fewer deductions from income and expenses can be much lower. Pay off the mortgage and a huge monthly expense evaporates. A pension, and social security, might actually provide enough to live comfortably, if modestly, in retirement.
The heart attack forced me to reckon with my health. A father that died of a heart attack in his sleep at 62 stacked the cards against me, but we all know that lifestyle is the main factor contributing to both the enjoyment of life and our longevity. At my recent one-year followup with the cardiologist he suggested I make a lifestyle change to reduce my “bad” cholesterol from 75 to 70. I was taken aback at this suggestion since I’m pretty much living a total denial lifestyle already. No alcohol, no meat, no caffeine. Regular exercise. Geez, what more can I deny myself? But losing a little weight has been a goal for some time, ever since my dress slacks (non-elastic waist band) haven’t been a comfortable dress choice. So I am now working on the intermittent fasting program with less sugar and processed foods. (I’ve never been a big bread eater.) Apparently losing weight will lower my cholesterol. And make me live longer.